- Allen "VipPrimo" Harris
I've seen a good deal of reviews, so I'll add my two cents. I used to write these things so why not get back into it and see where it goes.
Dune is an amazing and multi-faceted story. It's one of those stories that, in some respect, is a fever dream fueled by drugs and the opening of the mind to new horizons that are wholly grounded in monarchical society. While some stories just say stand on a table, Dune would like you to hold your breath and spin around until you almost pass out. Even with that caveat, it's still a pretty good story because it does some very good world building and doesn't get too off in the reeds, keeps it to a couple of noble houses and it's easy to keep up. The problem is this idea doesn't convey really well to the big screen. It's a very slow burn and the story of the chosen one is a tired one that has been done in other movies far better, such as the Matrix and Star Wars, and I think that's because they were made for film. The story is linear, but it slams on the brakes a couple of times hard and you need a solid seat belt writer to make it work.
The first Dune attempted to cram all of it in a 2 hour runtime and for some made some critical mistakes. I think it went with the narrative that you needed to be high as a kite to actually watch it, but I digress. All in all, it wasn't bad for a road trip with an overstuffed trunk packed with too much luggage, that somehow left grandma Bess at the last rest area. "Spiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice," you hear as the car drives by like the brakes and the throttle are stuck as the radiator overheats. If you saw the first Dune though, you know the story pretty well. Regardless, I won't spoil it here.
What this current Dune does right is with the visuals. Astounding landscapes, no journeys that make you envisions Willy Wonka's boat ride, and is more believable as a huge space fairing mining story. I think they should change the tag line to say, "In Space, everything is big!"
The actors should go without saying as consummate performers that nail their rolls like the professionals they are. Bardem really took Stilgar to a whole new awesome level. I had my doubts about Timothée Chalamet, as he doesn't always convey that resonance of a crown prince, but I think that's more the story than his ability. When it was time to be the man, he had no issues stepping up to the plate. Dave Bautista even feels more soundly adept at playing Rabban and someone I'd shutter to face in real life even if he is just playing Drax 2.0. It also kept Zendaya to 6 minutes of run time... look there's only so much brooding from the Kristin Stewart school of acting I can watch in a single film.
Where it fails is taking us on the journey (and there may be some spoilers in here in case you haven't seen it). The first Dune did a great job of setting up the screw job that is Arrakis, but neither do a very good job of saying why or that Leto Atreides knew it was coming. The worlds feel empty and hollow. We know even less about the trade guild or anything about Spice and why it's so important other than a narrative piece and making it look like Paul is going to have an allergy attack instead of being some special kid when he encounters it (your super power is hay fever!). Then we get all this politics and completely leave it behind to go with a messiah narrative that doesn't really take us with it. It's the same old pinball machine except they added a ramp and a few more lights.
Therein lies the biggest issue I have with Dune. It doesn't do anything I haven't seen before and I mean that deeply. Not only is it a narrative that many have seen in other films, but if you watched the first Dune you'll telegraph this one! I spent the whole movie ruining it for anyone within ear shot of my voice. "Oh, is this the part where they gas him?" Then it just ends. I'm not even sure what note it ended on because there's really no closure, no final rhetoric to say what was really going on. Just, The End, see you next week, even if there is a next week! So not only does it do everything in the first movie, I'm not even sure it does it better, which is saying a lot. This is like having a date come over for a movie. She's doing all the things she does, calls me the chosen one, and suddenly she gets up, puts on her coat and walks out of the room without saying a word! Not even a phone text to say what's up! What the hell Natasha you didn't even finish you glass of Chateau Libido!
This all leaves me with an inner monologue (one that would make the first movie jealous) that goes something like this: should I recommend this movie for the things it does right or say don't bother for the things it gets wrong? After careful consideration, I still don't have an answer that I'm completely satisfied with. Yes, it is the Dune we've been waiting for, but I'm not sure it's the Dune we wanted. I think it could've been something that would rival Star Wars, but if you tore it up enough, would it still be the slow burn that Dune is or would it just be another Star Wars space opera stuck on Tattoine, just Jabba the Hut is played by Stellan Skarsgard? We're just never going to know because we got Oliver went to the table and the headmaster gave him the same soup just in a fancy bowl without even stirring it up, but if you are a fan of Dune, maybe that's what you wanted.
So I think that's where we'll end the journey. If you're a fan of Dune, you'll still be a fan tomorrow. Maybe the next one will be better. Who knows, we may never know... Natasha still isn't returning my calls!!!
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